What is vascular disease?

The vascular system is the body’s network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins and capillaries which carry blood to and from the heart. Vascular disease is caused by the inflammation and weakness of the veins and arteries and the build-up of fatty deposits (often referred to as plaque) within the blood vessels and can therefore affect every part of your body in which the blood flows.

What causes vascular disease?

A build-up of fatty deposits narrows the arteries, and over time, this causes the arteries to be so narrow that the blood flow to vital organs and muscles is restricted causing tissue death, pain and reduced mobility. This build-up of fatty deposits is often associated with smoking, poor diets and lack of exercise.

Vascular disease is also commonly found to lead to coronary heart disease and heart attack, furthermore, a build-up of plaque in your carotid arteries (supplying blood to your brain) could lead to stroke.

You are more likely to have vascular disease as you get older, however other factors which make vascular disease more likely include:

  • Family history of vascular, angina, strokes or heart attacks
  • Being male
  • Pregnancy
  • Illness or injury
  • Long periods of sitting or standing still
  • Any condition that affects the heart and blood vessels, such as diabetes or high cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • High-stress levels
  • An unhealthy diet

Types of vascular disease include: